Institute of Semantic Restructuring

Navigation

Inductive Language Patterns

Inductive language patterns are those which require the listener to fill in meanings. They seem to be very meaningful, but actually provide little sensory information. The inductive language patterns are used to directly manipulate the client's model of the world.

The two stages of rapport, matching and pacing, are important in utilizing these patterns. You will track closely to create a match of the client's experience, and then to pace that experience in a manner which joins the outcomes of both parties together. The following patterns are useful for both stages of the procedure. In addition, some of the patterns are especially useful for calibration of the level of "unconsciousness" in the listener's responses to the speaker.

The inductive patterns can be used to directly change generalizations in the listener's model of the world. Although the inductive model was developed through the study of hypnosis, it is a useful description of what happens in any successful communication. Preachers, teachers, salespeople, poets, doctors, etc. all use speech patterns to capture and maintain the listener's attention, build the level of response from the listener, then offer new generalizations to the listener. These patterns are the language patterns of persuasion. Conscientiously applied, they are tools for beneficial gain of all parties. Sloppily or unethically used, they are the structure of double talk and flimflam. It is important to remember that as with any tool, the value of these patterns is determined by your use of them.

The Patterns

The numbers following each pattern name refer to the script that follows. This script is presented in two formats for easier analysis; the first is a simple paragraph format, actually as a single run-on sentence. The second version has one pattern example per line. The numbers follwing each pattern name refer to the line numbers in the second version of the script. One way to gain some facility with these patterns is simply to practice reading the run-on version of the script as many times and as many different ways as you can come up with. Each variation will give you that much more command, at the unconscious level of language use, of the patterns. Since it is also worthwhile to work through the patterns one-by-one you might find alternating between the versions even more valuable.

Examples

In this first example all the patterns are run together with no punctuation at all, but there is a reason for this: One of the most valuable tools in hypnotic language is creating ambiguity, and one of the easiest ways to do that is by blurring then end of one phrase and the beginning of another. The challenge, with the text below, is to read it out loud and try to make it sound as sensible as possible, even though you know it's just one silly long run-on sentence. This is an exercise not just in recognizing and talking about these patterns, but a hands-on way to learn to actually use them naturally --- by working with them in such an unnatural format and reading them as compellingly, soothingly, meaningfully as possible.

We are here together and we have a common purpose sitting in this room and learning there's something happening here we have a lot to do you might think about some object or a special familiar item only you will understand the significance of it or all of the special learnings involved now we can begin and as you start notice those interesting experiences those curious perceptions even more curious and interesting are the strongest processes in your unconscious you can't ignore that you should recognize satisfaction with progress don't start relaxing too deeply now your breathing has changed speaking to you as an explorer of experience representing progress for you as an individual accomplishing progress unconscious learnings to (seize/sees) the day apart and apart from consciousness can you see how to learn this unconsciously? is it worth your unconscious mind focusing on not focusing? there is no need to hold on consciously as you don't have to connect with normal attention you can just soak it all up with your unconscious and it's easy for your unconscious to grasp it all and i'm starting to really wonder what do you want from all this because i'm curious just what would you tell yourself say there were some way to just go for it or maybe just have it all naturally here now don't think too much about how your unconscious will protect you and don't wonder where you will first notice your positive changes those positive changes can be happy and even educated your body will think, friends and your skin, friends, will understand as i mention how odd it is to speak of you skin understanding or comment that it's unusual to think of a body as thinking you are beginning to be aware of increased curiosity and may develop even more delight since you know i will ally myself with your protective unconscious these experiences make you an evolving person and you conscious mind's limits cause the unconscious change knowing you are awake means you know that you have slept forgetting means something happened it's so very good to be alive it's even better to be you.

Examples, revisited

Next you have a numbered list of the phrases in the run-on version, one phrase per line. You can use this list to refer back to the names of the various patterns as a way to learn to talk about the patterns, to possibly recognize patterns in isolation when listening to others speak or when reading. Again, going back and forth between the two presentations of these patterns is probably more valuable than focusing one just one. On the other hand, if you have to choose between being able to use the patterns as opposed to simply talking about them, you might be better served to spend more time and energy on reading the run-on version meaningfully.

01 we are here together and we have a common purpose
02 sitting in this room and learning
03 there's something happening here
04 we have a lot to do
05 you might think about some object
06 or a special, familiar item
07 only you will understand the significance of it
08 or all of the special learnings involved
09 now we can begin
10 and as you start
11 notice those interesting experiences
12 those curious perceptions
13 even more curious and interesting
14 are the strongest processes in your unconscious
15 you can't ignore that
16 you should recognize
17 satisfaction with progress
18 don't start relaxing too deeply
19 now your breathing has changed
20 speaking to you as an explorer of experience
21 representing progress for you as an individual
22 accomplishing progress
23 unconscious learnings
24 to (seize/sees) the day
25 apart and apart from consciousness
26 can you see how to learn this unconsciously?
27 is it worth your unconscious mind focusing on not focusing?
28 there is no need to hold on consciously
29 as you don't have to connect with normal attention
30 you can just soak it all up with your unconscious
31 and it's easy for your unconscious to grasp it all
32 and i'm starting to really wonder what do you want from all this
33 because i'm curious just what would you tell yourself
34 say there were some way to just go for it
35 or maybe just have it all naturally here now
36 don't think too much about how your unconscious will protect you
37 and don't wonder where you will first notice your positive changes
38 those positive changes can be happy
39 and even educated
40 your body will think, friends
41 and your skin, friends, will understand
42 as i mention how odd it is to speak of you skin understandng
43 or comment that it's unusual to think of a body as thinking
44 you are beginning to be aware of increased curiosity
45 and may develop even more delight
46 since you know i will ally myself with your protective unconscious
47 these experiences make you an evolving person
48 and you conscious mind's limits cause the unconscious change
49 knowing you are awake means you know that you have slept
50 forgetting means something happened
51 it's so very good to be alive
52 it's even better to be you.

Explanation of Patterns

A note of caution: None of these patterns are particularly impressive on their own. Think of these patterns as working more like a school of piranha than the bite of a shark: It isn't that any one piranha bit is so dangerous, it's that there are so many, so fast, that they are irresistible. But even that analogy is misleading. These patterns are powerful when used skillfully, but there's no particular value in "fast talk." Oftentimes it is significantly more compelling to speak slowly and smoothly with these patterns.

X and Y (matching 7+-2)

01 we are here together and we have a common purpose
02 sitting in this room and learning

The idea here is very simple, very basic: string together statements about the extant environment.

Vague Verbs

03 there's something happening here
04 we have a lot to do

Part of the Grinder/Bandler model of hypnotic language is to overload the dominant, language processing cerebral hemisphere. One way to do this is to speak in a manner that requires the client to provide content for grammatically required items. "We have a lot to do," is almost certain to be true in any consulting situation, and yet actually says very little; any understanding, particularly, any sensory oriented representation of just what it is to be done, is provided not by the words of the sentence, but by the client.

Vague Nouns

05 you might think about some object
06 or a special, familiar item

Same basic idea as vagueness in verbs; the less actual content you provide with your words the more the client will be required to fill in the missing details. It is a lot harder for the client to resist details they themselves have provided, and the process of filling in those details is basically the process of self-inducing a series of micro-trances.

Quantifiers

07 only you will understand the significance of it
08 or all of the special learnings involved

Words that refer to quantity, without actually providing a number, once again require the client to fill in details. "Only you" and "all of the" sound much more specific than they really are.

Missing Pieces:

You are presented with eight variations of this pattern. Where Vague Nouns and Vague Verbs leave out details, rather like painting in blurry greys, Missing Pieces literally leave thing out, but in a fashion that typically, again, will require the listener to fill in the gaps.

1 Simple

09 now we can begin
10 and as you start

"Begin what" and "Start what" are very natural questions that you might want to ask when presented with these patterns in isolation. Of course in casual conversation this kind of pattern doesn't often trigger any special response, because the answers to those question are part of the context of whatever has brought the people together in the first place. In hypnotic use this reliance on context is part of shifting communication from the explicit and conscious to the implicit and unconscious.

2 Descriptions

11 notice those interesting experiences
12 those curious perceptions

It may seem an abstract, philosophical point, but neither of these examples mention who is interested or curious. Again, we are requiring the listener to provide information, and while this information may seem to be obvious in context this pattern still increases the listener's reliance on implication and unconscious evaluations, which is, recognizably, part of the process of inducing and utilizing trance. As an aside, the words "interesting" and "curious" often have an ideo-sensory effect, eliciting the state to which they refer.

3 Comparison

13 even more curious and interesting

What most people will fail to notice is that the comparison object isn't mentioned. "More curious than what" would be a natural question here, but, typically, listener's leave it unasked, and are much more likely to assume what the comparison object is than to think about it at all. This, of course, is just another way of saying the client fills in the gaps left in the words of the speaker.

4 Extremes

14 are the strongest processes in your unconscious

As a comparison implies an object to which the subject is compared, so too superlatives such as "best, worst, most, strongest" imply a reference group. If the reference group isn't explicitly stated, and the client doesn't ask to have it explicitly stated, then you have again created a situation where the client is filling in missing pieces.

5 Rule cue: Can't

15 you can't ignore that

"What's stopping you?" is the natural question. This is another one that can seem faintly existential, but it is very valuable in hypnotic language, because the answer to the question is left out, to be provided by the listener's unconscious processing of the pattern.

6 Rule cue: Should

16 you should recognize

"What will happen if I don't?" is the bit that's left out of this one. And that is what matters most about this pattern, that you use it to leave out explicit content, forcing the listener to unconsciously engage in recurring micro-trances to fill in the gaps you leave in your words.

7 Intangibles

17 satisfaction with progress

Satisfaction is a noun, but there is a verb closely related to it, "satisfy." One school of thought argues that the verb form is more real, that the noun form is a kind of mental shorthand. What is certain is that there is a lot more information in a sentence such as "Progress satisfies me by giving me more ways to do things better than I used to" than in the example pattern. The combination of taking a verb form, with all the nouns implied by that verb, and chopping off the nouns so you can turn the verb itself into a noun very much leaves the listener in the position of having to fill in a lot of information. Note, too, that "progress" is also an intangible; any noun that can't be held in your hand or otherwise touched is may well be an intangible: Success, Love, Honor, Reward, Faith...

8 Cancellations

18 don't start relaxing too deeply

The listener has been told what not to do, but that does not tell them what to do; they have to provide that for themselves. Negation or cancellation holds a place for something else but does not provide any clues about what that something else may be.

Ambiguity:

Ambiguity is a condition where something can be taken more than one way. Technically all of the patterns presented so far are examples of ambiguity. The next four patterns are perhaps more clearly ambiguous the way folks usually mean it.

1 Punctuation

19 now your breathing has changed

When you read the examples in the run-on version you are immediately confronted with punctuation ambiguity. Without commas, colons, semi-colons, periods to tell you how to group the words you are forced to find pauses and emphases on your own. In this specific example the word "now" could as easily have been part of the previous phrase "don't start relaxing too deeply now" as "now your breathing has changed". You could even say the word twice, once for the end of the first and once for the beginning of the sentence. In a situation like this the listener becomes increasingly dependent on the speaker to provide subtle non-verbal cues about how the words go together to make sense. Hypnotic language highlights the listener's reliance on the speaker to clear up these things --- except that the hypnotist is purposely using this kind of language to precisely to increase the listener's unconscious reliance on the speaker.

2 Scope

20 speaking to you as an explorer of experience
21 representing progress for you as an individual

Who is the explorer in the first example? Who is progressing in the second? Although you may have assumed the answer was the listener, it could as well be the speaker. This pattern is a great one for showing the importance of skillful delivery. The goal is to speak these patterns so that they catch the imagination of the listener, inviting the listener to tune you out for a moment or two while they think about the two or more ways the phrase could have been taken. This, in turn, requires sensitivity to where the listener's attention is and a strong sense of how they are responding to what you say and how you say it.

3 Syntactic

22 accomplishing progress
23 unconscious learnings

From a learning standpoint this pattern can be a little slippery because you are likely to have interpreted it one way without considering the possibility of another interpretation. As with the previous pattern, delivery is important here. The ambiguity comes from the fact that the phrase can be a subject or an object in a sentence. These examples are a bit tricky because they also use intangibles. A clearer example is, "visiting relatives," as in, "They are visiting relatives." Now, there's ambiguity to start from the vague noun, "they" (pronouns are, by definition, vague; that's why your English teacher wanted you to be sparing with them.) Because "they" is ambiguous we have no way to know if the sentence means "They have gone to visit relatives" or "They are relatives come to visit." Two very different situations, both covered by "They are visiting relatives."

4 Phonological

24 to (seize/sees) the day
25 apart and apart from consciousness

In English class this pattern is called "homonyms," soundalikes. The second example is from a paper by Milton Erickson, in which he points out all the ways "apart and apart" can be picked apart, "apart and a part" or "a part and apart" or "a part and a part." Of course Erickson's refined client assessment and delivery skills made this useful at the time. It can easily be turned into distracting gobbledygook, as you may have already noticed when reading the run-on version of the samples out loud.

Conversational Postulates

Who hasn't asked "D'you got the time," when they meant, "Please tell me what time it is"? That is an example of conversational postulates; ways of speaking that do not elicit responses not to the explicit words spoken.

1Yes/no question formed from a presupposition of command

26 can you see how to learn this unconsciously?
27 is it worth your unconscious mind focusing on not focusing?

In the case of these example most listeners are most often simply going to agree quietly. It's quite similar to when you ask, "Can you tell me the time?" You don't want the person to answer yes or no, you want them to tell you the time. Likewise, this pattern can often elicit the response requested simply because people are used to responding that way. There are, however, two valuable situations where your listener won't just do what the pattern suggests. The first is with what some might call "resistant" clients, people who are very defensive and on guard for what they might mis-perceive as trickery. These people may simply answer the question literally while in reality sending the message that they are afraid of, and will resist, manipulation. Knowing these language patterns will greatly increase your ability to work with this kind of resistant patient, and practice is the best way to really know which patterns to use with which type of person. The second case where you may get a literal response is when the listener has indeed developed a trance state (which, after all, is one of the legitimate aims of using hypnotic language.) Many hypnotists use this kind of literal response as a way to know what kind of trance or state their client is in and regard this kind of literalism as a good sign of ready access to the unconscious mind of the client.

2 a) Cancellation + Rule cue: Should + command

28 there is no need to hold on consciously
29 as you don't have to connect with normal attention

Again, most people most of the time won't handle the literal meaning of this but will instead take it as a direction to do the opposite and act accordingly, letting go consciously and disconnecting normal attention patterns.

2 b) Rule cue: Can + command

30 you can just soak it all up with your unconscious
31 and it's easy for your unconscious to grasp it all

Most often people will simply respond to this as a direction to do what is stated rather than simply take the statement at face value. And as with the other conversational postulates, there are basically the same two situations when people may respond literally; when they don't trust you and when they are in trance.

Embedded Question

32 and i'm starting to really wonder what do you want from all this
33 because i'm curious just what would you tell yourself

Similar to conversational postulates in that often people will respond to the question even though, technically, literally, the sentence isn't a question but a statement. Virginia Satir refers to these patterns as "softeners," ways to ask questions that don't seem so intrusive.

Embedded Command

34 say there were some way to just go for it
35 or maybe just have it all naturally here now

The "commands" are "go for it" and "have it all". Depending on the overall receptiveness of your listener this way of instructing can be very useful. Using this pattern can also help you assess the level or types of responses you are getting from your listener.

Cancellation Commands

36 don't think too much about how your unconscious will protect you
37 and don't wonder where you will first notice your positive changes

Recall that because cancellations don't tell the listener what is, just what isn't, that these examples actually require the listener to answer for themselves the question of what to do if not what the sentence mentions. However, this pattern also allows for embedded commands. The pattern is particularly useful for clients who have not yet loosened up enough to respond to you, when they are still in the distrusting, testing stage, because you can offer suggestions in a way that whether or not they are acted on you can accept what is offered to you with no loss of face for you or the client. Establishing this no loss of face environment is considered by many to be a key element to effective work.

Selectional Restriction Violations (SRV)

38 those positive changes can be happy
39 and even educated

Bad news: positive changes can't be happy. Being happy is something people do. And often people are happy about experiencing positive changes. And that is the goal of a pattern like this. Yes, it can be taken metaphorically, and yes, there is the embedded command "be happy," but also the simple fact that you are ascribing a quality to something that normally can't have that quality invites the listener to use their non-dominant cerebral hemisphere (i.e. to "think with their right brain") which is considered by many to be an important part of hypnosis in particular and therapy in general.

SRV with suggested noun substitution

40 your body will think, friends
41 and your skin, friends, will understand

The examples were originally composed for use in a training seminar, and so address a group of people. In one-to-one communication you would simply use the person's name, or the singular of "friend," or some other word that pointed to the listener. There are at least two ways to describe what's going on in this pattern: 1) adding to an embedded command, 2) creating a punctuation ambiguity with the person's name. Either way, this can be a wonderful pattern for increasing the likelyhood that the listener takes the suggestions personally to heart, and yet can also, because it's coming from within the metaphorical context, continue to be unconscious.

Meta-comment on SRV

42 as i mention how odd it is to speak of you skin understandng
43 or comment that it's unusual to think of a body as thinking

This pattern shuttles the listener back and forth from the metaphorical, "right brained" way of thinking back to the literal. Moving the listener back and forth like this between thinking styles can be very powerful for helping them achieve trance as they learn how easy it can be to slip in and out, how very safe it is to slip in and out as fits the moment.

Mind Reading:

No, this isn't about reading people's minds; it's making statements about what's going on in someone's mind without saying how we know. So in a way this is like the missing pieces patterns, in that it leaves out important information. These patterns also work well with ideo-sensory terms.

1 Direct

44 you are beginning to be aware of increased curiosity
45 and may develop even more delight

How can the speaker possibly know either of these things if the listener hasn't told them so? Logically, not at all. But people can often respond to this kind of statement with surprise at noticing it is true, that they are experiencing what the speaker claims.

2 reversed

46 since you know i will ally myself with your protective unconscious

Variation on a theme; how can the listener know what's going on in the speaker except for what the speaker says? Still, now that the speaker has mentioned it, the listener certainly knows it; meanwhile the line between conscious and unconscious has been crossed again, because whether or not it was true before it is true now.

Causation

47 these experiences make you an evolving person
48 and you conscious mind's limits cause the unconscious change

Technically the next three patterns are types of vague verbs, but they are worth working on separately. "Just how do those experiences make me an evolving person?" is the obvious question. However, often this type of utterance will just be accepted by the listener, acted on as if true, and this kind of statement can be a big part of helping create new behaviors.

Equivalence

49 knowing you are awake means you know that you have slept
50 forgetting means something happened

This is utter nonsense, and yet can be really compelling if offered at the right time with the right delivery. As with the previous pattern you might be amazed at the relationships you can build between ideas using this kind of pattern.

Is

51 it's so very good to be alive
52 it's even better to be you.

Verbs don't get much more vague than "do", "be", and "is." But often people have problems in life not because of what is going on but simply because they are so stuck in thinking about things a certain way. They know that life IS what it is, their problems MEAN what they think they mean, that circumstances CAUSE them to do what they do. One approach to therapy is to help people see through these frozen views and find alternatives and options. But this same kind of thinking can be used to help people solidify good things in their lives, when used skillfully in conjunction with the other patterns offered here.

Quotes

Someone once told me, "You can get away with saying almost anything if you're just quoting someone else." Maybe that's not entirely true, but using quotes, putting words in the mouth of a fictional character in a make-believe story or a real person from a real-life anecdote creates a situation for the listener much like what goes on with conversational postulates and selectional restriction violations. With quotes you can greatly increase the likelihood that the listener will get a little more "right brained" in their responses to what you are saying.

Analog marking

Milton Erickson writes about multi-leveled communication in which he uses subtle shifts in voice tone or volume to send more than one message. Douglas Hofstadter also talks about this kind of communication in his book, "Godel, Escher, Bach." The simplest practical application is to practice adding different kinds of emphasis to the run-on version of the examples; there are many opportunities to send multiple messages.

Ideo-Sensory Terms

Some words and phrases seem to evoke the thing they talk about. "Yawn," "blink," "itch" are examples of this kind of word, as are "think," "imagine," and "wonder." Combining these kinds of words in the hypnotic language patterns gives a wonderful way to assess the level and type of responses you are getting from your listener.